"How can one talk about a 'new tyranny' when never before have men enjoyed so much freedom and so many rights?" It's a question the reader unfamiliar with the subject might well ask. The classical tyrannies, in effect, were characterized by the fact that they stifled freedom and denied rights. Men were aware of this usurpation because, deprived of something that belonged to them by nature, they felt diminished.
The new tyranny of which we are speaking, instead, exalts man to the point of adoration, giving him the opportunity to turn his interests and desires into freedoms and rights, which however are no longer inherent in him by nature, but become the "gracious concessions" of a power that legally ratifies them. And so, turned into a child who contemplates his own whims as these are maximized and satisfied, the man of our time is more than ever the hostage of the assertions of power that guarantee him the enjoyment of all-encompassing liberty and constantly expanding rights. In the classical tyrannies, the subject at least still had the consolation of knowing that he was oppressed by a power that was violating his nature; but those who are subjected to this new tyranny have no consolation other than the protection of the same power that has lifted them up to the altar of adoration. And so without even realizing it man has become a tool in the hands of those who tend to him with painstaking care, as ants tend to aphids before feeding on them.
In exchange for these "gracious concessions," man accepts a hegemonic view of the world that is imposed on him and turns him into an object of social engineering. Let's call this hegemonic view the "progressive Matrix": a mirage, a grand illusion or trompe-l'oeil that is accepted with a gregarious spirit. Those who dare to question the trompe-l'oeil are immediately the target of anathemas, they are considered reprobates or blasphemers, enemies of the worship of man. The progressive Matrix used by the left has also been assimilated by the right, which has declined to join the battle where the confrontation with the adversary would be dynamic and exciting: on the level of principles. In its capitulation, the right limits itself to introducing insignificant variations on the working of the grand machine, but does not dare to use its gears. It's like plowing without oxen.
The progressive Matrix has thus become a sort of Messianic faith; it has instituted a new order, it has imposed unassailable cultural principles, it has established a new anthropology that, while promising ultimate liberation to man, holds nothing for him but future suicide. And standing against this new order is only the religious order, which restores to man his true nature and offers him a correct view of the world that undermines the foundations of the trompe-l'oeil on which the new tyranny is based, dispelling its falsehoods. A vision that power makes a great effort in combating, since the religious order is the only bulwark to be destroyed before its triumph is complete.
Rampant secularism accuses the Church of meddling in politics, citing for support the Gospel passage that is typically flourished by those who do not read the Gospel: "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." But what is it that belongs to Caesar? Temporal things, earthly realities; but, naturally, not the principles of the moral order that are born from human nature itself, not the ethical foundations of the temporal order. The new tyranny, which is so intent on expanding the "liberties" of its subjects, denies the Church the liberty of judging the morality of temporal actions, since it knows that this judgment would include a radical subversion of the trompe-l'oeil on which its very existence is based. Power longs for a pharisaic, corrupt Church that would decline to restore to humanity its true nature and would accept that "mystery of iniquity" which is the adoration of man; it hopes for a Church brought to its knees before Caesar, transformed into the "whore that fornicates with the kings of the earth" spoken of in Revelation.
Today in the West this great clash is being engaged, which the new tyranny disguises very effectively as an "ideological battle." But if this were truly an "ideological battle," power would not consider this a subversion; because ideology is precisely the fertile ground that favors its supremacy, in that it establishes a "demo-tussle," a "democratic" fight of all against all, capable of turning men into petulant children fighting for their "freedom" and "rights," just as the builders of Babel fought, in the midst of the confusion, to raise a tower that would reach heaven.
The battle that is joined today is not ideological, but anthropological, because it tends to restore to men their authentic nature, permitting them to emerge from the Babelic confusion fomented by ideology, until they reach the road leading to the original principles. If it succeeds – if the Matrix is dismantled – men will discover that they do not need to build towers in order to reach heaven, for the simple reason that heaven is already within them, even if the new tyranny seeks to strip it from them.
The articles collected in this volume are dispatches from this battle, issued from the platforms that the newspaper "ABC" and the magazine "XL Semanal" have given me for more than 13 years, and that "L'Osservatore Romano," "Capital," and "Padres y Colegios" have recently inaugurated. The curious reader will note that these "battle dispatches" combine diatribe and introspection, invective and elegy, reflection of a political nature and artistic digression; he will even find a selection of observations made during a spring in Rome that changed the direction of my life, because it was then – in the days following the death of John Paul II – that I definitively adhered to the "ancient liberty," the antidote to all the tyrannies of the world. In an age of uncertainty that leaves man adrift in a sea of troubles, Rome stood before me, suddenly, like a rock of salvation: I am not referring to religious salvation alone, but also cultural, because I consider the faith of Rome a bulwark that clarifies the terms of our spiritual genealogy and shelters us from the squalls into which the new tyranny would like to toss us. Rejecting this boundless possession means signing an act of social death; claiming it as one's own does not constitute an act of submission, but of proud and joyful freedom.
The eternal revolution of Christianity consists in revealing to us the meaning of life, restoring to us our nature; from this discovery is born a joy with no expiration date. When this joy is combined with a minimum of artistic sensibility, life becomes a feast for the intelligence. Chesterton wrote that joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian. I, who am a somewhat immodest Christian, have sought in these articles to make public, or at least provide a glimpse of, this gigantic secret that pervades and transcends me.
by Juan Manuel de Prada
Madrid, March 2009